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The value of trust in biotech crop development: a case study of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso

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6 pages
Agricultural biotechnology public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been recognized as having great potential in improving agricultural productivity and increasing food production in sub-Saharan Africa. However, there is much public skepticism about the use of GM (genetically modified) crops and suspicion about private sector involvement in agbiotech projects. This case study sought to understand the role of trust in the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton in Burkina Faso project by exploring practices and challenges associated with trust-building, and determining what makes these practices effective from the perspective of multiple stakeholders. Methods We conducted semi-structured, face-to-face interviews to obtain stakeholders’ understanding of trust in general as well as in the context of agbiotech PPPs. Relevant documents and articles were analyzed to generate descriptions of how trust was operationalized in this evolving agbiotech PPP. Data was analyzed based on emergent themes to create a comprehensive narrative on how trust is understood and built among the partners and with the community. Results We derived four key lessons from our findings. First, strong collaboration between research, industry and farmers greatly contributes to both the success of, and fostering of trust in, the partnership. Second, this case study also revealed the important, though often unrecognized, role of researchers as players in the communication strategy of the project. Third, effective and comprehensive communication takes into account issues such as illiteracy and diversity. Fourth, follow-up at the field level and the need for a multifaceted communications strategy is important for helping push the project forward. Conclusions Burkina Faso’s well-established and effective cotton selling system laid the foundation for the implementation of the Bt cotton project – particularly, the strong dialogue and the receptivity to collaboration. Interviewees reported that establishing and maintaining trust among partners, researchers and the community in Burkina Faso greatly contributed to the success of the PPP. By addressing challenges to building trust and engaging in trust-building practices early on, improvements in the effectiveness of agbiotech PPPs are likely.
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Ezezikaet al.Agriculture & Food Security2012,1(Suppl 1):S2 http://www.agricultureandfoodsecurity.com/content/1/S1/S2
R E S E A R C HOpen Access The value of trust in biotech crop development: a case study of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso 1,2,3* 11,4,5 Obidimma C Ezezika, Kathryn Barber , Abdallah S Daar
Abstract Background:Agricultural biotechnology publicprivate partnerships (PPPs) have been recognized as having great potential in improving agricultural productivity and increasing food production in subSaharan Africa. However, there is much public skepticism about the use of GM (genetically modified) crops and suspicion about private sector involvement in agbiotech projects. This case study sought to understand the role of trust in theBacillus thuringiensis(Bt) cotton in Burkina Faso project by exploring practices and challenges associated with trustbuilding, and determining what makes these practices effective from the perspective of multiple stakeholders. Methods:We conducted semistructured, facetoface interviews to obtain stakeholdersunderstanding of trust in general as well as in the context of agbiotech PPPs. Relevant documents and articles were analyzed to generate descriptions of how trust was operationalized in this evolving agbiotech PPP. Data was analyzed based on emergent themes to create a comprehensive narrative on how trust is understood and built among the partners and with the community. Results:We derived four key lessons from our findings. First, strong collaboration between research, industry and farmers greatly contributes to both the success of, and fostering of trust in, the partnership. Second, this case study also revealed the important, though often unrecognized, role of researchers as players in the communication strategy of the project. Third, effective and comprehensive communication takes into account issues such as illiteracy and diversity. Fourth, followup at the field level and the need for a multifaceted communications strategy is important for helping push the project forward. Conclusions:Burkina Fasos wellestablished and effective cotton selling system laid the foundation for the implementation of the Bt cotton projectparticularly, the strong dialogue and the receptivity to collaboration. Interviewees reported that establishing and maintaining trust among partners, researchers and the community in Burkina Faso greatly contributed to the success of the PPP. By addressing challenges to building trust and engaging in trustbuilding practices early on, improvements in the effectiveness of agbiotech PPPs are likely.
Background As the first West African nation to adopt and commercia lize a transgenic cropparticularly,Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cottonBurkina Faso is a trendsetter in its region. The use of Bt cotton has increased dramatically in recent years, boasting the second highest growth rate in the world. In 2010, Bt cotton hectarage increased by 126% from the level in 2009. Currently, Bt cotton crops are esti mated to cover 260,000 hectares of land and have been adopted by 65% of farmers [1]. Critical to the development
* Correspondence: obidimma.ezezika@srcglobal.org 1 Sandra Rotman Centre, University Health Network and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
and implementation of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso was the partnerseffective collaboration. In this study, we focus on Burkina Faso, Africas largest producer of cotton [2], and the role trust played in the countrys adoption of Bt cotton (see Additional file 1 for additional background information on the Bt cotton pro ject in Burkina Faso). The 1980s and 1990s proved to be difficult years for Burkina Fasos cotton industry, as annual yields drastically decreased due primarily to destruction by pests [3]. In 1999, Monsanto approached the Burkina government with the Bollgard GM cotton crop to address pest resistance to pesticides and increase cotton yields [4].
© 2012 Ezezika et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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